DENVER — In just one hour this week, kids across the country can learn how to make cell phone apps and even their own video games. It’s part of a national effort called Hour of Code, and there are all kinds of ways to get involved.
Students at Monarch High School in the Boulder Valley are tackling a unique assignment in computer class. They are building an app for Android phones that features an interactive cat.
“This app is going to purr when I’m done,” said Sue Johnson, computer science teacher at Monarch High School.
The cat app tutorial is one of many available as part of the Hour of Code initiative offered on www.code.org. The idea is simple: introduce computer science and code to at least 10 million kids, one hour at a time.
“Computer science is the foundation of industry, business, just about everything that we do,” Johnson said. “I think it will become, as Mark Zuckerberg says, it will become like teaching reading and writing pretty soon. It really will be.”
Schools, libraries and even some electronics retailers like Apple Stores are hosting Hour of Code activities this week as part of Computer Science week.
Students like Megan Moore have been working their way through the online activities.
“The (app) that I’m working on right now is a Magic 8-Ball,” Moore said. “When you shake the phone, once we put it onto the device, it will give a prediction on the 8-Ball and it will come up with a sound.”
And apps are just the beginning. University of Colorado Professor Alexander Repenning designed a program called AgentCubes that allows people of all ages to draw two-dimensional objects and then inflate them in order to create games in 3-D.
“We created this from nothing, in just a couple of seconds essentially,” Repenning said, demonstrating how quickly he could create something in 3-D.
His simple tutorial is now one of the lessons on the Hour of Code website. Students can create their own 3D Frogger-style game from scratch.
“For us it was very important that that would be super easy to do because we realized that many of the kids were excited about this idea of creating artwork first,” Repenning said.
Students said they enjoyed their hour of learning, and said it was more than just fun and games.
“It really gives you an appreciation for how computers work and the games we play every day,” Moore said. “Just how complicated it really is to make them and at the same time when it’s presented in a certain way it can be really simple.”
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